Police in Belarus jail Maria Kolesnikova, the last opposition leader who was still free and in the country
Belarusian police have jailed opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova (Maryia Kalesnikava) at a detention facility in Minsk, her father told the publication Tut.by. “The head of the Investigative Committee’s Central Criminal Investigations Directorate, Vasilyuk, called and informed me that she’s been jailed. He suggested that I bring her a care package,” Kolesnikov Sr. told reporters.
Kolesnikova is reportedly charged with “inciting actions intended to harm the national security of the Republic of Belarus.” Her father says he suspects that the case is related to the criminal investigation launched after the formation of the opposition’s Coordination Council, where Kolesnikova is a member of the Presidium.
The Belarusian Attorney General’s Office says the Coordination Council constitutes an illegal attempt to seize power in the country. The council’s members, meanwhile, insist that they make no claim to power and advocate only a review of last month’s presidential election results, where state officials declared a landslide victory for the incumbent, Alexander Lukashenko.
Kolesnikova disappeared on September 7, apparently kidnapped by Belarusian officials. Eyewitnesses say masked men in civilian clothes abducted Kolesnikova in downtown Minsk, dragging her into a van labeled “Communications” and driving off in an unknown direction. A day later, she was deposited in a car at the Ukrainian border, where Belarusian officials allegedly hoped to force her out of the country. Kolesnikova foiled this plan, however, when she ripped up her passport before reaching the border checkpoint, preventing herself from leaving Belarus.